A transient man accused of strangling and fatally beating another man in Parkland is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.
Pierce County prosecutors charged Douglas Reid Murray, 42, with second-degree murder Monday in the death of Thomas “TJ” Fite, 41.
Defense attorney David Katayama entered a not guilty plea on Murray’s behalf at arraignment, and Court Commissioner Meagan Foley set bail in the case.
Court records and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department identified Murray and Fite as transients, but in court Murray identified himself as a resident of Gig Harbor.
According to charging papers:
After someone called 911 Thursday about a body near a fast-food restaurant at 107th Street South and Pacific Avenue South, investigators arrived and found Fite dead and covered in blood.
He died from blunt force trauma and strangulation, according to the Medical Examiner’s Office, and his sternum, ribs, arm and finger were broken.
Witnesses said Fite had been drinking a beer with Murray the night before. They said they last saw him Thursday walking toward the fast-food joint.
Deputies went to the restaurant, found Murray inside with blood on his clothing and arrested him.
Witnesses said Murray had run up to their car the night before and was acting strangely. Fite said he would take care of it and got Murray away from the car.
After a 45-day evaluation at Western State Hospital, Murray recently was found competent to stand trial on felony harassment and other charges in a separate incident.
On Sept. 7, prosecutors asked for bail of $50,000. Superior Court Judge Michael Schwartz instead ordered Murray released on his own recognizance, on the condition he stay in touch with a local mental health care facility.
Court records show he has six prior felony convictions and 44 misdemeanors.